By proclamation of Governor Asa Hutchinson, and in recognition of the positive economic, social, and cultural impact of the travel and tourism industry, Arkansas will celebrate May 1-7 as Tourism Week.
In 2015, more than 28 million visitors traveled in Arkansas, spending an estimated $7.2 billion, which generated $374 million in state taxes and $137 million in local taxes.
Across the state, communities are planning to salute Tourism Week in a variety of ways. Following is a list of places and activities planned:
The Arkansas Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 71, will celebrate on May 1-7. The center will give out free soft drinks, bottled water, gift bags from the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, and tickets to the Open Road exhibition at Crystal Bridges. A representative from Hobbs State Park will be onsite. For more information, contact William Armacost at 479-855-3111.
The Arkansas Welcome Center in Blytheville, located on Interstate 55 South, will celebrate throughout the week. The Blytheville Car Club and 4-H representatives will be onsite May 1 and 7. On May 2, displays by Heifer International and Nucor Yamato Steel will be featured. On May 3, there will be Kagomi products displayed. Parkin Archeological State Park and local archeologist Marion Haynes will visit with travelers on May 4. Southland Greyhound adoptions will be available on May 5. May 6 will feature displays by the Mississippi County Extension Service and Case Equipment Company. For more information, contact Carol Gozell at 870-762-2512.
The Arkansas Welcome Center in Corning, located on U.S. Hwy 67, will host events throughout the week. On May 3, the Matilda & Karl Pfeiffer Museum will display minerals from Arkansas and objects from its Native American artifact collection. On May 4, visitors will be served cookies and lemonade. Riceland rice samples and a recipe booklet will be given out daily. The Ozark Gateway Tourist Council will have a lobby display all week. For more information, contact Barbara Harmon at 870-857-6014.
The Arkansas Welcome Center in El Dorado, located on U.S. Hwy 167, kicks of celebrations on May 1 with representatives from regional eateries, local businesses, and area events such as the Southern Food & Wine Festival and the Mayhaw Festival. On May 3, the Arkansas Audubon Society will provide information on birding as a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Moro Bay State Park interpreters will bring Albert the Alligator on May 4. On May 5, Arkansas’ South Tourism Association will have a booth providing information on its member counties: Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita, and Union. For more information, contact Brenda Clark at 870-881-9160.
The Harrison Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 65, will celebrate Tourism Week as well as the National Park Service’s Centennial on May 7. Arkansas State Representative Kelley Linck and Richard Davies, former executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, will speak at 10 a.m. Staff will lead a hike on the Overlook Trail from 11 a.m. to noon. KHOZ will broadcast live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be an ice cream social from noon to 2 p.m. For more information, contact Leesha Miller at 870-741-3343.
The Welcome Center in Helena-West Helena, located on the U.S. Hwy 49 bypass, will celebrate Tourism Day on May 5 with a “Southern Heritage” theme. There will be live performances of gospel and blues music along with locals dressed in period costumes portraying Civil War soldiers, Southern Belles, and Mark Twain (who loved Helena). Staff from the Mississippi River State Park, the Delta Cultural Center and the Helena Museum will be onsite, and an “Arkansas Made” table will display products of the Delta. A southern menu will feature chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and sweet tea along with cupcakes and moon pies. There will be daily giveaways throughout the week including Riceland rice, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning and Great River Road items, along with refreshments donated by the Helena Museum of Phillips County. For more information, contact Dawna Parker at 870-338-7602.
The Visitor Information Center in Hot Springs, located at 629 Central Avenue, will celebrate Tourism Week May 1-7. On May 4 from 3 to 4 p.m., visitors can enjoy an open house with coffee, punch and cupcakes. On May 5 and 6, visitors will be given the opportunity to answer trivia questions related to Hot Springs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those who answer the questions correctly will win a prize. Visit Hot Springs will ask its Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook followers to share photos alongside their favorite Hot Springs places using #VisitHotSprings, #NTTW16, @VisitHotSprings. Posters sharing the impact of tourism in Hot Springs will be hanging in downtown information kiosks and storefronts. For more information, contact Cora Easterday at 501-321-2277.
The Lake Village Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 65-82, will celebrate with several events throughout the week. On May 2, a representative from Lakeport Plantation will give a presentation. On May 3, there will be a presentation from the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretive Museum and Visitor Center. Staff from Lake Chicot State Park will be onsite May 5, and Cane Creek State Park staff will welcome tourists on May 6. The musical group Sisters from Twinkle Town will perform on May 6. All presentation times are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will also be free samples of Riceland rice with rice recipes and samples of Cavender’s Greek Seasonings. For more information, contact Martin Reese at 870-265-5832.
Little Rock will celebrate Tourism Week with a Travel Rally Day at 10 a.m. on May 3 at the Statehouse Convention Center Atrium. The event will be hosted by Gretchen Hall, CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, and will feature dignitaries from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, executive director Kane Webb and tourism director Joe David Rice. For more information, contact Libby Lloyd at 501-376-4781.
The Mammoth Spring Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 63 North, will celebrate Tourism Week May 1-7 with tours of the depot along with free balloons, water, soda, homemade ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, a live bluegrass group, and lots of door prizes. For more information, contact Adam Davis, at 870-625-7382.
North Little Rock:
The city of North Little Rock will celebrate Tourism Week May 2-6, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On these days there will be refreshments, tourism fact displays and giveaways at the Visitors Information Center in Burns Park. For more information, contact Stephanie Slagle at 501-758-1424.
The Siloam Springs Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 412, will celebrate on May 6. The center will serve hot dogs and barbecue chicken sandwiches, and giveaway Riceland rice samples, Little Debbie snacks, and Cavender’s Greek Seasonings. For more information, contact Betty Ross at 479-524-4445.
The Texarkana Welcome Center, located on Interstate 30 East, will celebrate on May 3-4. Resource Raccoon from Arkansas State Parks will be onsite. Mayor Ruth Penney Bell will read a proclamation on May 4. Other special guests include the Victory Riders Motorcycle Club, ArkLaHomaTex Corvette Club, and the Arkansas State Police, who will complete child safety seat checks. Special entertainment will be provided by Melody Boys, Genoa High School Band, Alan Broussard, and the Jerry Wright singers. There will be booths by DeGray Lake State Park, Crater of Diamonds State Park, White Oak Lake State Park, Poison Springs State Park, Historic Washington State Park, Cossatot River State Park, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. There will be giveaways by Williams’ Tavern, Riceland Foods, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, Little Debbie Cakes, and Yarnell’s Ice Cream. For more information, contact Melissa Adams at 870-772-4301.
The Red River Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 71 North, will host an event on May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Barbecue sandwiches, sodas, bottled water, and chips will be served to visitors. There will be representatives from the Crater of Diamonds State Park and Williams’ Tavern from Historic Washington State Park. Roger Tipton of Ashdown will display the craft of wood turning. There will be free samples of Riceland rice and Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, along with many door prizes including free games of miniature golf from Fun Country Park. Visitors can register for a drawing to be held at 1 p.m. They do not have to be present to win. For more information, contact Sheila Nichols at 870-772-7511.
Van Buren/Fort Smith:
The Arkansas Welcome Center at Van Buren/Fort Smith, located near mile marker 3 on Interstate 40, will treat travelers to complimentary Arkansas made products including locally made candies and samples of one of Arkansas’s leading agricultural exports, rice. There will be random prize giveaways all week. On May 5 at 11 a.m., the mayors of Van Buren and Fort Smith will be onsite greeting visitors and reading an official proclamation announcing National Travel & Tourism Week. Representatives from the Advertising and Promotion Commissions from Van Buren and Fort Smith will select a lucky tourist and present him or her with a gift basket. An interpreter from Lake Fort Smith State Park will have a display featuring live snakes and will visit with travelers about these reptiles and the unique history and heritage of the Van Buren/Fort Smith area. For more information, contact Kevin Billings, at 479-474-9512.
The Arkansas Welcome Center, located on I-40 North, will celebrate on May 5 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Hot dogs, fish, and fried pies will be provided for tourists. Crittenden County Museum, Osceola Historical Society, Arkansas Genealogy Society, and the Sultana Disaster Museum will all have displays. For more information, contact Calanda Young, at 870-735-3637.
For general information on National Travel & Tourism Week, contact Amy E. Jones with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism at 501-682-1676.